CHELSEA — When Chelsea officials were planning for the town’s first Tree Lighting and Holiday Kickoff for Saturday, they didn’t really plan for wind.

On Thursday, Chelsea Selectman Matt Pushard brought some tools and determination to the site of the town’s Christmas tree, between the Town Office and the Chelsea Elementary School on Togus Road, to try to outwit the forces of nature.

“This project has fought us,” Pushard said.

Last Sunday, after the tree was put up and decorated, strong winds knocked it, its stand and the platform they sit on, over.

“It’s kind of discombobulated right now,” Pushard said, during a break.

Pushard had spent some time Thursday stabilizing and straightening the tree with cables so he could drive 4-foot lengths of rebar through the wooden platform to anchor it securely to the ground.

Once that’s done, he said, he’ll either rent or borrow a bucket truck to re-string the lights and rehang the ornaments that were knocked askew.

From the start, the project has been one of cooperation, collaboration and adjusting plans.

In addition to the tree lighting, the Chelsea School Parent Teachers Association is hosting a spaghetti dinner from 4:30 to 6 p.m.; the price is the donation of a non-perishable food item for the food pantry. At 6:30 p.m., Gene West, the town’s oldest resident, is expected to light the tree. And Santa is expected to arrive on Chelsea’s new firetruck.

At the same time, the town will be showcasing its new recycling service, provided by ecomaine. Company staff members will be on site from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a kick-off event.

Lissa Bitterman, ecomaine business development manager, said the first 150 people who visit the table will get free recycling bins. They’ll also get information about single-stream recycling and Recyclopedia, the company’s smart phone app that helps residents with information about what household trash items are recyclable.

Pushard said town residents have donated time, effort and materials to make it work, including a disc jockey who has recently moved to town, who will donate his services. And officials are working to involve the town’s seniors and the Chelsea Grange.

“We’re trying to promote some community spirit,” Town Manager Scott Tilton said. “This seems like an easy thing to do.”

While it’s hard to know how many people will attend, Tilton said a lot of people have expressed interest on Facebook.

“We’re hoping this is the start of a bigger tradition,” Pushard said.

The selectman is a lifelong town resident, and he doesn’t remember any other event like this.

Pushard noted that a divide still exists in Chelsea following the federal conviction of Carole Swan, the former chairwoman of the selectboard, who was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud and two counts of workers’ compensation fraud in 2013. Swan’s husband Marshall Swan was convicted in 2014 of five counts of filing false income tax returns from 2006 to 2010.

“We’re hoping a little bit of togetherness brings the town more together,” Pushard said, “and people get more involved and help out with committees and vacancies on our boards.”

The town has struggled in recent years to find people who are interested in running for office or serving on committees.

“I love my town. I bleed Chelsea green,” he said. “We’re hoping this is the kickoff of something decent.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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